It was an evening safari in Kabini – we drove along that famous road where every visitor hopes to sight one of the forest’s rarest denizens. We spotted a vehicle parked on the road, a little ahead of us. Already excited about the prospect that lay ahead, we rushed towards the vehicle. It turned out that they had sighted the melanistic leopard on a tree, in the company of 2 other leopards for nearly 45 minutes. They had mated on several occasions during that span of time and had got down to the ground from the tree just a few moments before we had arrived. 

One of the leopards remained perched on the tree and eventually, she alighted too. All the safari vehicles that had since gathered to see the leopards began making their way out to explore other parts of the park, while we stayed on. 

Until then, it had felt like one of those silent evenings, sans any animal movement or distress calls anywhere in the forest. We decided to stay parked there a little longer, hoping that the leopards would get back up on the tree again. And that 20 minute wait resulted in ours being the only safari group that photographed this mating pair out in the open, walking along the road.